Ex­plor­ing un­paved roads: new places for 2012

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Travel - SEEMA DHAWAN

Lonely Planet’s launch of Best in Travel 2012 re­veals new des­ti­na­tions open­ing up to tourists for the f irst time next year.

Trav­ellers can now ex­plore Le­sotho, a coun­try neigh­bour­ing South Africa, new ar­eas of Bhutan, and the North­ern re­gions of Kenya.

In an ef­fort to in­crease tourism, Bhutan has made it pos­si­ble to visit new re­gions of the serene get­away and thanks to the build­ing of new high­ways, the re­mote re­gions of North­ern Kenya and Le­sotho will be more ac­ces­si­ble. cap­i­tal Ma­suru, where the treks lead to a mas­sive moun­tain range.

Add can­ni­bal caves and di­nosaur foot­prints to the list and this desti­na­tion prom­ises to be a lot more than a pony ride.

Bhutan, a cap­ti­vat­ing Bud­dhist coun­try that cal­cu­lates Gross National Hap­pi­ness (GNH), is also open­ing up a few re­gions to vis­i­tors that were re­stricted in the past.

“There’s part of the coun­try that you’ve never been able to see that peo­ple can now,” says Reid.

Trav­ellers can ex­plore Bhutan’s pris­tine moun­tain re­gions and f ind a peace­ful oa­sis in the un­ex­plored far-east where they’ll f ind more lo­cals than tourists.

Royal Manas National Park, home to some of the planet’s last re­main­ing tigers, has also re­opened.

Bhutan’s tourism pol­icy lim­its the amount of vis­i­tors to an “en­vi­ron­men­tally man­age­able level,” and re­quires that all travel be or­ga­nized with a reg­is­tered tour op­er­a­tor.

There is an au­then­tic­ity about vis­it­ing a desti­na­tion while it’s fresh to trav­ellers.

“Some­times there’s a timer on places,” says Reid.

“Things open up and tourism comes rush­ing in and there’s al­ways that sense that some­thing is go­ing to change.”

Leave your foot­prints in the un­ex­plored ter­rain of North­ern Kenya, where even the an­i­mals look dif­fer­ent than the rest of the coun­try. A mas­sive road con­struc­tion is un­der­way and while this will make the area eas­ier to ac­cess, this may be the last chance to ex­plore it through its un­paved roads.

Ac­com­pa­nied by an abun­dance of wild an­i­mals, the sa­fari through the desert to Lake Turkana is a must see. Visit the Cen­tral Is­land National Park, a vol­canic is­land in the mid­dle of the lake, for a truly wild ex­pe­ri­ence.

Filled with some of the largest croc­o­diles in the world, the Best in Travel 2012 es­ti­mates that about 12,000 of these rep­tiles call the is­land home.

Will the con­struc­tion of these roads and ac­cess to new re­gions change them?

“It might take years,” says Reid, “but its some­thing to think about.”

It was a cool, rainy Sun­day morn­ing in mid-au­gust. My hus­band Tom and I had to drive back to Montreal later that day, but we de­cided to visit Place de la Gare, an artist-run gallery in a train sta­tion in the vil­lage of Mont-trem­blant, Que­bec, be­fore we left.

The first thing I liked about the gallery was the build­ing, which has been re­built in the style of the orig­i­nal train sta­tion. The train orig­i­nally brought set­tlers and forestry work­ers, and later skiers, to the Mont-trem­blant area. Framed black and white pho­tos in­side the sta­tion pro­vide a fas­ci­nat­ing glimpse of the early days.

The sec­ond thing I liked was the beau­ti­ful paint­ings in­side, many fea­tur­ing the sparkling lakes and rolling hill­sides the re­gion is known for. There were other whim­si­cal, colour­ful paint­ings and one mem­o­rable paint­ing com­mis­sioned for the Montreal Jazz Fes­ti­val.

But the best thing about our visit to Place de la Gare was the dis­cus­sion that we had with one of the res­i­dent artists.

As the three of us had the gallery to our­selves that morn­ing, we had the op­por­tu­nity to have a good talk. There was a strong Al­berta con­nec­tion as Michel had spent many happy win­ters in his younger years on the ski hills in Banff and Lake Louise and later at­tended the Banff School of Fine Arts.

We were all packed and ready to dis­cover Egypt last Jan­uary, a new travel desti­na­tion for us.

Af­ter spend­ing sev­eral months re­search­ing the coun­try, we had a list of things to do and see. The pyra­mids along with var­i­ous tombs and his­toric sites were at the top of the list. Then we de­cided on a two-night trip into the desert with a cou­ple of Bedouin guides. With the guides nav­i­gat­ing over the sand dunes in their Land Rover with pre­ci­sion and skill we sat back and en­joyed the thrill of the ride.

Stop­ping late af­ter­noon, we were pre­sented with a tasty meal pre­pared by our guides. Af­ter­wards they en­ter­tained us by singing and play­ing tra­di­tional in­stru­ments around a fire. The nights were chilly, but well lit with a near full moon. Day 2 brought us to the White Desert.

Mounds of lime­stone jut­ting out of the sand for as far as we could see.

Next on our list was a three­day cruise down the Nile. Get­ting to the ship was quite dif­fi­cult, due to a small protest

We even­tu­ally talked about more re­cent times, and he told us about cop­ing with a ma­jor health chal­lenge. He had re­cently com­pleted chemo­ther­apy treat­ments for Hodgkin’s lym­phoma and was half-way through ra­di­a­tion treat­ments. My hus­band, who had suc­cess­fully un­der­gone treat­ments for Hodgkin’s lym­phoma a year ago, com­pletely em­pathized with him. Af­ter jokes about hair-loss, we had a heart­felt talk about how deal­ing with these kinds of chal­lenges turns your life up­side down and Tom was able to of­fer some en­cour­ag­ing words.

Travel agents usu­ally em­pha­size stun­ning scenery, won­der­ful lo­cal food or out­stand­ing recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties when rec­om­mend­ing travel des­ti­na­tions. While these are im­por­tant, we have of­ten found — and as this story il­lus­trates — our most mem­o­rable travel ex­pe­ri­ences are con­nected to the peo­ple that we meet on our jour­neys. on the streets. We were driven around the back roads un­til we ar­rived at our port. Set­tling down on the top loung­ing area, we had a good view of the pro­test­ers.

Sud­denly, there were sev­eral loud bangs. As tear gas drifted over the ship ahead of us, we ran for cover. The ship did even­tu­ally con­tinue on its jour­ney down the Nile with­out in­ci­dent.

Ar­riv­ing in the City of Luxor a few days ear­lier than an­tic­i­pated we set­tled into a ho­tel wait­ing for our flight to the Red Sea.

Who knew that a Rev­o­lu­tion was in the mak­ing?

Our flight was can­celled; trains and air­ports were closed along with all over­land travel. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion was also shut down, In­ter­net, phones, tele­vi­sion, etc.

As we were some of the last tourists left in that city, with nowhere else to go, there was am­ple op­por­tu­nity to re­ally get to know the peo­ple and to see the coun­try from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive. Egypt is a very warm and hos­pitable place to visit.

Manan Vatsyayana, Afp-getty Im­ages

The iso­lated king­dom of Bhutan is one of the more ex­pen­sive des­ti­na­tions in the world, pop­u­lar with celebri­ties and the well-heeled. In 2012 the king­dom, which lim­its the num­ber of tourists each year, is open­ing up new re­gions once re­stricted to...

Cris Bouroncle, Afp-getty Im­ages

Char­lene Sch­mitt’s visit to Egypt in­cluded a trip by Land Rover to the White Desert where odd mush­room-shaped chalk for­ma­tions dot the land­scape. Lit­tle did they know at the time that they were there just as the rev­o­lu­tion was be­gin­ning.

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